House Of The Dragon: Matthew Needham Discusses "Quid Pro Toe" & More
Matthew Needham (Doctor Who, Sanditon) plays Lord Larys Strong in HBO Max's streaming sensation House of the Dragon. With so much violence, death, incest, and abuse, the loyal advisor and confidant to the Queen still managed to shock audiences with a bizarre display of dominance as he enthusiastically revealed the spies in Red Keep to Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke). If you haven't had a chance to catch up on the reign of House Targaryen, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is set to release House of the Dragon: The Complete First Season. The release includes all ten episodes of the hit HBO series, with over an hour of bonus features plus two all-new, never-before-seen featurettes. House of the Dragon: The Complete First Season will be available to own in a 4K Ultra HD Limited Collectable Steelbook Edition on December 20, 2022. The actor sat down for a chin wag with Bleeding Cool to discuss what makes Lord Larys Strong's actions so terrible, how he developed his backstory, and that "Quid Pro Toe" scene.
How would you square Larys' decision to have his dad, Lord Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes), and brother murdered so he could have power?
Matthew Needham: Actually, you might think he comes from quite an abusive household and is doing it out of revenge. But we talked about it, that Harwin (Ryan Corr) is quite a loving person and that actually he's quite loving to Larys. That makes his actions worse in that he gets rid of people who think he can't act for himself, people who defend him. The only people who defend him. He's now the head of the house. He's moved up a little bit in the world. He started his journey, and it's his first big act, his first big move.
What sort of backstory did you create to come up with his sociopathy?
MN: I still don't think of it in terms of that. I think he's a very disturbed person, obviously. I think he's got a lot of trauma. I think he's he's somebody who (has) quite a debilitating deformity in a world that is not kind to people who are physically different or different in any way. I think he has to behave differently in the world. If he carries that trauma, and I think he's got a lot of hate, he wants to take revenge on the world. I think that's what he's doing. I don't think in terms of sociopathy or psychopathy or any terms like that; I don't think he really thinks of himself in those terms. He's just trying to get shit done.
I want to ask you about that infamous scene with Queen Alicent Hightower. Who would you say has the power in that exchange?
MN: What I think is interesting about it is that you could sort of see it from both sides. For me, I would say it's Larys because I think that's such a display of dominance; it's primitive. I would say him, but I could understand why some people would think it was the other way around.
It hasn't happened onscreen before, but is it canonical that this exchange may have happened before in their relationship?
MN: Oh, yeah, definitely. The scene comes from a moment of conflict between them. There's a confrontation. She's challenged him, and it's a way of reasserting control. It's keeping someone in line, so it's definitely happened before. I don't think it's like "Quid Pro Toe," which I heard. It's not like every time there's information, this happens. It's whenever he feels like she's slightly pulling the reins, he needs to sort of put her back in her box. There's this weird sort of demonstration of humiliation and power that they do that she doesn't. I don't think she looks comfortable at all… she looks horrified to me, anyway.
MN: I think he's trying to make her feel this sort of trauma as well. I think he's trying to make her feel as ashamed of that part of her body as he does about his. If he can associate it with something traumatic, which is what he did. That's the worst thing about sexual assault is that it makes the victim's body the scene of the crime. That lasts long after the perpetrator is gone. Long after Larys is gone, she's going to still be carrying around that feeling. A number of people come up to me and go, "I felt soiled after that scene. I felt like I needed a physical shower." It is, I think, the kick he's getting from it. I love the "Quentin Tarantino" [reference]. I don't think he's like a foot fetish. I don't think he's sexually aroused by feet. That's a bit mundane for me anyway; I think it's weirder than that. I do like that's sort of becoming a thing online. I think is quite funny.
House of the Dragon: The Complete First Season will be available to own on 4K Ultra HD Limited Collectable Steelbook Edition (includes Blu-ray), 4K Ultra HD Standard Edition (includes Blu-ray), Blu-ray, and DVD on December 20, 2022.